I was about to die…
I could see it coming. First my eyes would glaze over from the pain, and then my body would keel over from exhaustion, and then everything would go black. It was going to happen, in like two seconds, I know it. Just wait…
Well, I kept on waiting, staring at the blank wall of the ‘international’ student dorm room I had come to know all too well over the past 10 days. It looked much nicer from the outside than those constructed for the ‘locals’ visiting the temple, but I wasn’t sure what the difference was—probably just that we had private showers.
Every morning at 4:45am I woke to the silent dawn of Chiang Mai, meditated for a few hours, then caught a quick shower and breakfast. It was always the same grub—rice porridge with your choice of red pepper flakes or sugar. As soon as breakfast was over, I’d scurry on back to my room to continue my meditation practice for the rest of the day.
It’s actually quite surprising how hard it is to get 12 hours of meditation in during a 24-hr period (note how I didn’t say ‘day’ there), but that was the suggestion by the Temple’s abbot. And of course, I took it, because meditation should be HARD, right? I should be challenging and confronting and painful. The Theravada Buddhists have a reputation for the intensity of their practice, but I think it’s just because they tend to attract people with my kind of misconceptions around meditation. Or the human mind just goes there on it’s own. I’ll go with all of the above, final answer.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned
in my meditation practice over the years, it’s that the mind goes lots of places: emotions, attachments, desires; sleep, attentive, drowsy; crazy, dark, joyful… literally everything you can think of (ba-dum-ching!).
If there’s another thing I’ve learned…
In my meditation practice over the years, I’ve learned that “where your mind goes” doesn’t matter. Let your mind go where it will. Or go ahead and try and reel it in. While you’re trying to perfect the imperfection, as long as your body goes on sitting on that cushion with the intention of meditation, you’re doing meditation. So consider it all a success, no matter how it feels, or what you think about it, JUST DO IT!
And when you still need support because you saw unicorn horns get cut off by flying saucers and now you’re scared of where your mind will go next—go to Multi-Modal Meditation and I’ll show you a few ways to stave off the crazy and stay grounded in your practice.
But I can’t promise those hornless unicorns won’t come back to haunt you…
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I took a deep breath and looked again. Yep. Three hundred fifty-five dollars, three brilliant black numerals smiling back at me from the screen.
How is this possible? I thought. Only a week ago I was nearly broke.
It was at that moment I absolutely fell in love with Airbnb. No wine or dinner or foreplay. This was it. In love. I’d been hosting people from diverse places and from all walks of life—lawyers, psychologists, magazine editors, lighting technicians. They were all friendly, fun to talk with, and generous. One couple had even bought me cheesecake. Now I was staring at the full material complement of these exchanges, earned in a little over a week.
Damn, this is cool.
A WHOLE NEW WORLD
We’ve come a long way from sticks and stones to iPhones and Smart watches. It’s incredible how technology has evolved alongside us. It is helping to shape our world in astonishing ways, ways we couldn’t have fathomed centuries, or even decades, ago.
How are we going to define this new world that’s emerging? We all know it’s happening. We see it in the portable screens people carry around, plugged into a magic realm called Cyberspace. We see it in the lives uploaded onto Facebook and Twitter. We feel it in the cool metal and smooth plastic that are vehicles for global knowledge. Who needs a wand?
All of this is the merest glimmer of the possibilities in the coming years. The Internet of Things will create a world that blends Cyberspace with “reality.” How are we to adapt in such a new dimension?
First, it helps to understand how the Cyber will help us evolve if we allow it to interpenetrate us. We find in many spiritual traditions ideals that are embodied by the Cyber realm. We also find strategies that can help us keep a balanced relationship with the Cyber, without allowing it to dominate us. Truly, there is no cause for fear if we bend like water yet maintain our forward flow.
Here are some of the core qualities that benefit us:
It has never been easier, in all of the known history of Earth, to communicate. We can reach a person in Japan or India with a few swipes and taps. And it doesn’t matter if we’ve never even met. This type of contact melts many of the boundaries that existed for our ancestors. With such instant access to the world, there’s greater likelihood for us to open our minds and find the commonalities. This effect will only increase as the Cyber covers more countries and devices become more embedded in our lives. We will gradually learn to embrace human diversity and discriminate less by religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or other attributes.
In the industrialized nations, particularly the U.S., an entrepreneurial fire is catching. A new economy is being birthing, that of the “shareconomy.” With Cyber tools making entrepreneurship easier, and systems such as Airbnb, Uber, Getaround, and LiquidSpace allowing people to easily market their own resources, people are becoming empowered and gradually shifting away from the typical employer-employee model. YouTube, SoundCloud, and Kickstarter are also helping enable people to pursue their dreams and not rely on agents, producers, or big investors to dictate what goes down. We are learning to explore our potential.
You may have noticed that the Cyber includes both Collectivist and Individualist qualities. Collectivist cultures are often found in Asia and Eastern Europe, and tend to emphasize group consciousness. On the one hand, this may translate to interdependence, feeling supported, and feeling a sense of belonging. On the other hand, it can manifest as conformity, xenophobia, and authoritarianism. The Cyber may refine the Collectivist values and mix them with honed Individualist ones common in the West, such as independent thinking, overcoming limitations, and bold self-expression. A new, global quality is likely to emerge from this Cyber soil.
Now let’s explore the challenges the Cyber poses us, and how we can mitigate their effects.
So much information barrages us. Texts, emails, social media, news, posts, so on and so forth…We’re now used to the barrage, but many of us might not have realized how it’s affected our cognitive abilities. Our attention is shorter and it’s harder for us to stay focused. Yet, with some self-discipline, it needn’t be this way. Mindfulness is an excellent practice for increasing our attention. Mindfulness can be applied when engaging with the Cyber, whether on our phones, computers, tablets, or Smart gear. Simply being aware and being intentional of where we place our focus go a long way.
For some mindfulness tips, check out our recent post.
DISTANCE FROM NATURE
Living surrounded by technology can lead us to forget our roots in nature. To enjoy a balanced life, and be free of addiction to the screen, it helps to take some time out to immerse ourselves among the trees, near a lake or beach, or just out where there are no lights. Even walking on grass barefoot for 10 minutes would be beneficial.
Check out this post to explore more ways to commune with nature.
DISTANCE FROM INNER SELF
As we get plugged into social media and the lives of others, it can be easy to obfuscate our inner vision of ourselves. We need time to think, to reflect, to introspect. Otherwise, we risk becoming an automaton. So, let’s check out of Facebook and Twitter every so often. Let’s dive into ourselves. Maybe even journal. Maybe sit in meditation. Maybe just relax and contemplate where we’ve been and where we want to go, without thinking of the opinions of others. Whatever we choose to do, self-awareness is vital.
Technology and its emerging reality, the Cyber, can be our powerful ally. We can consider it a sort of guidance as well. Its qualities are helping to pull us into the next stage of our evolution. While the process has some bugs, we can navigate it more smoothly with conscious attention and balanced action. This symbiotic relationship could be profound.
How do you feel technology has helped you, and what do you feel are challenges it presents? How do you face those challenges. Please share below! We’d love to hear your thoughts.[/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]